Miracles in Magnolia // Magnolia Market Silobration + Chipstarter- Waco, Texas

Hey y’all! I’m gonna walk you through a weekend at the Silos! I’ll also be sharing some behind the scene details and photos from my Chipstarter experience! Hope you enjoy! Annnd I am offering a fun Chip and Jo inspired printable at the end of my blog post! Check it out!

It all started with an email…well…it started with a dream but the email soon followed. Magnolia had sent out an email to their subscribers about a “Chipstarter” contest. In the wake of Chip’s new book, Capital Gaines, Chip decided he wanted to invest in other people’s dreams just like people invested in his. The contest required you to submit a 2 minute video entry explaining your dream and why you should win. What was funny was that in the email, it described different examples of dreams and the first example was, “Want to climb a mountain?”…I knew this was not a coincidence but a sign from God. If this didn’t work out, I would put my little Kilimanjaro dream aside for a season. But of course God had more for me than I could ever ask or imagine. You can check out my Chipstarter entry video below if you haven’t seen it already. I was notified on a Tuesday night that I was a finalist and would be sent on an all expense paid trip with one guest to Waco for their annual Silobration event, where Chip would choose “two” winners. Me and my mom left that Friday after starting the morning out with mimosas at the airport terminal, landed in Dallas, got our rental car and off to Waco we went. I was so nervous and excited and shocked all at the same time. That night I would stand in front of about 4,000 people and talk about my dream…and that included two people I admired and respected so much.

Our flight had been delayed several hours and we were rushing from Dallas to Waco since I had to be cute and ready at the Silos by 5:30, but before I could get ready, I couldn’t help but act like a little kid at Christmas at the sight of a Magnolia care package sitting on my bed. To see me freak out about my gift bag, watch here!I did a little pre-silobration interview on the roof of the Magnolia warehouse and watched anxiously as crowds of people began to pour in. Then I noticed a beautiful woman with blue hair…an idol of mine since I was in 6th grade!- Kandee Johnson! Makeup Guru and Youtube star! She had inspired me SO much growing up so to run into her at the Silobration, I couldn’t help but cheese because it felt like a full circle moment. Later that night, I heard someone congratulate me on my win and it was my middle school crush, former dreadhead and American Idol Finalist, Jason Castro. When I say he was my middle school crush, I mean it! I became obsessed with all things dreadlocks. Weird phase, I know. But it was so funny to see so many moments that made up my life unravel that night. God is sooo in the details.

But anyways, back to my story- Jon Foreman, lead singer of another one of my adolescent favorites, Switchfoot, was on stage before us Chipstarter contestants were set to go up. I was breathing such deep breaths, I thought I was on the verge of a panic attack. I honestly realized the power of prayer that night. I would not stop praying in my head as Jon was singing. Then he sang two songs that made my heart rest- “I Dare You to Move” and “My Only Hope” (made famous by Mandy Moore in “A Walk to Remember”). I held on to those lyrics with every fiber of my being. “Everybody’s watching you now, Everybody waits for you now, What happens next? …I dare you to move… To see my on stage response when Chip asked me why he should invest in my dreams, CLICK HERE. The “Miss America” cry

The “Miss America” wave… LOL

Needless to say, in true Chip Gaines fashion, we ALL won and Chip chose to invest $14,000 in my dream, first to cover my personal climbing expenses, leaving me only to focus on fundraising for the Tim Tebow Foundation whose mission is to bring faith, hope and love to those needing a brighter day in their darkest hour of need. After a post-win interview, we got to speak to Chip and Jo one on one for a bit. I could’ve talked to them for hours. They were just like they are on Fixer Upper- Joanna, humble and supportive and Chip, a big sweet goofball. They thanked me for preaching on stage…haha…Must have been the holy spirit because I am not a natural public speaker. That was intensely out of my comfort zone! BUT SO WORTH IT.

I could barely sleep that night. My climb was officially set in motion and I couldn’t stop asking God to forgive me for all the times I ever doubted Him.

“God can do anything you know- far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us!” 

Ephesians 3:20-21
So that Saturday, I woke up on cloud nine and me and my mom were able to just enjoy a day at the Silos! It looked like fall but felt like summer. Thank the good Lord for Alabama Sweet Tea. My friend, Audrey who I hadn’t seen in years, drove up from Austin for the day too! It was nice just to catch up and talk about all the good things God was doing in our lives and with our dreams. We checked out the Silobration vendors, ate the best grilled cheese and stood in line just to get into the Magnolia store. I was determined to get this metal sign made by Jimmy Don (Fixer Upper’s metal artist) that read so perfectly- “Your mountain is waiting so get on your way…” You can scroll below to see it…He even signed the back of it!

This is my amazing Magnolia point of contact, Emily who made the entire process a joy. The whole Magnolia staff was a blessing and you can see the proof of amazing leadership.

A random cute couple who I asked to photograph because they were so “picture worthy”…haha!

Magnolia details…

Me and my best frannnd! I couldn’t have breathed that weekend without her!Sweet Tea and Lemons…


My sweet new Magnolia friend, Alex! So glad I met her! Again, Magnolia employees rock!

In front of the Silos Bakery…which we didn’t get to try because the line was longer than the size of Waco itself.

Jon Foreman, (Switchfoot) during Soundcheck… Thanks for leading me into an attitude of worship, Jon.

On Sunday morning, we left to catch our flight back in Dallas and I was thrilled because my mom was finally able to see my crib. Again, God was in the details because I knew chances were, I would be coming home to Florida this January. And I really wanted my mom to see where I lived and we were able to do that AND get Velvet Taco, one of my Dallas faves.
My hood- Uptown Dallas

I’ll end on this note: I love this quote from Capital Gaines, (which you should totally go buy) …

“Every ounce of energy you invest in pursuing your goals will help you grow toward God’s plan for you…even if you end up somewhere you hadn’t counted on. I can’t promise you there won’t be any curveballs in your life. But I’m positive that if you do the hard work and never quit- and pick yourself up when things go sideways- good things will be waiting on the other other side.” – Chip Gaines

Also, now that I’ve been”Chipstarted”, I need YOUR help so I can finish strong. Please consider supporting my climb for the Tim Tebow Foundation financially by following the link HERE. 100% of your donation will go towards the foundation’s outreach initiatives. As a bonus, if you donate a minimum of $25, you’ll get the fun downloadable 8 x 11.5 printable handwritten by me that you see on the left! Stick it in a cute frame and voila! If you’re not into chocolate and peanut butter (because you’re an absolute freak that needs Jesus), then custom printables can be designed for a minimum $50 donation. (restrictions may apply ;))

#GoGetEm,

A

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Dallas- Big Things Happen Here

For the record, the photo above was taken in St. Pete Beach in Florida, not Dallas. 😉

I want to walk you through a little change of seasons. You know one of the things I love about running on the Katy Trail every day? I get to see the seasons change, because the whole trail is covered with trees. I like the seasons in Dallas. The price you pay living in sunny tropical Florida is that you don’t get seasons. I started running in January of this year. The trees were bare when I started. Then the flowers started to bloom and so did some buildings that didn’t exist before. Now, it’s fall. The trees are shifting, preparing for the barrenness of winter yet again with one last celebration of color. Those buildings that were once foundations, are now high rise condos. The seasons come and go. People come and go. Opportunities come and go.

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens…” -Ecclesiastes 3:1

Since before I moved to Dallas in January of 2016,  I became aware of just how proud Texans were to be from Texas- especially the Dallasites. Dallas- a.k.a. “The Big D” has been recently known as a bustling, blooming, big city. A big city where big things happen. I’m not just saying that. That is actually the official motto of Dallas. I remember when I came to visit in August of 2015, I saw “BIG” photo op signs like the one below. I was certain that moving here meant big things were gonna happen for me too…and they did. Just not in the way I originally thought. It was my first time living on my own, my first time living away from home, my first time with a “real” job. There were a lot of firsts. It was equally thrilling and terrifying all at the same time. I felt like Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz, heading into the great unknown, not knowing who or what I’d stumble upon along the way. All the while, Glinda the good witch was whispering to me just like she did to Dorothy, “You are more capable than you know…” 

I’m not going to go through the whole sob story since most of you know it, but almost immediately after moving here, my dream job became a total nightmare and I found myself wondering why God dragged me out here to suffer in this concrete jungle. Dramatic, I know. After I officially left the non-profit I was working with in September of 2016, I decided I would sign another lease come January and give Dallas one more shot. After all, big things happen here. I was determined to find out why God brought me here and I didn’t feel ready to leave. Divinely, God lead me to the perfect apartment through an unlikely source via an unlikely divine appointment. It’s cliche but God does work in mysterious ways. It was in the perfect location in uptown Dallas without the uptown rent. I LOVED it. If you’re from Tampa, then you can compare it to living in Hyde Park…Exactly. Of course I loved it.  It was right in my budget…although I don’t know how I determined a budget with no j.o.b. but oh well. I guess I was trusting the Lord to provide…and He has done just that. I moved in January having been rejected by a few jobs already. Hustler Alexis was like “I got this! I got this…my photography business is gonna soar now! I’m going to book all these non-profit jobs, weddings, lifestyle sessions, EVERYTHING!” I was so determined to be successful at what I loved most, regardless of what God thought about it. Needless to say, it hasn’t really worked out that way. I have emailed so many non-profits explaining to them how valuable my work is. I’ve heard several, if not hundreds, tell me that I am SO talented but that I am just not in their budget. I’ve been stood up by potential clients. As in, we had a meeting scheduled and I went all the way to their office and no one showed. I’ve had potential opportunities that I was so excited about fall through. Nothing was working. But God was miraculously providing. I also had a little part time job at a paint and sip studio that made sure my food bill was covered. Just the food bill. Little by little, moment by moment, I have been able to stretch what God has given me. I had five loaves of bread and two fish and God multiplied it. However, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have any hysterical breakdowns about how God was going to continue to provide for me. He’s definitely collected a lot of my tears in this season.

 

Many tears were shed alone. I don’t want anyone to feel bad for me but I can probably count my friends in Dallas on ONE hand. Yes, one. Thank God the few I have are solid. Maybe Tampa just has really great people overall, but Dallas isn’t exactly known for Southern hospitality. It has been incredibly challenging to find friends, especially ones who stick around. I’ve met a ton of people but nothing really stuck with 98% of them. Not even at church. That one burns the most. I can’t say I ever found a church home here.  I made a small handful of amazing relationships through the churches I visited here, but none of those churches ever felt like home and I began to find myself asking for forgiveness for the bitterness I felt towards these communities that I thought were supposed to be my saving grace.

 

After feeling disconnected at church and with my dreams of becoming a humanitarian and lifestyle photographer, I decided God was not going to use me if I just stayed cocooned in my apartment watching netflix all day. So, I started visiting a local nonprofit business supporting refugees in the Dallas area. It’s called Vickery Trading Company. These are refugees that sew cute boutique children’s clothing while getting paid a fair wage for their work and learning life skills for their transition here in America. Perhaps one of my biggest blessings in Dallas came wrapped as this unexpected package. I’ve always wanted to know more about refugees. God gave me the opportunity to do that from my backyard without flying anywhere. I wouldn’t exactly call myself a volunteer. I just love to go in and keep the ladies company and help when it’s needed. I also love their cooking and observing all their little quirks and traditions. Isn’t it funny, that some of my favorite memories were made with people who seem so different from me? I think I’ve learned in the end, we’re really not as different as we seem to be. We all have problems, families we miss, the comfort of home we yearn for, and we all really love to eat and talk. With tears in my eyes, I think I will miss them most.

Ooops. I just realized I never mentioned I was leaving. But I am sure some of you started piecing that together. After two years here, my Dallas season is finally ending. It’s on to a new chapter, back home in Florida. I received a job opportunity that I can’t wait to share more about. It came in God’s perfect timing and perfectly orchestrated by God. And for those wondering, yes, it still has to do with creativity and capturing what matters. I will still be continuing my photography business though. I just won’t have the pressure of making it a full time source of income. The only not-so-fun part is that I feel like it’s all happening so fast. As adventurous as I am, I grow very connected to places very fast. I’m like a little bird who carefully creates her nest. I get comfortable. Change is not my favorite thing in the world…when it’s happening. When I first was planning my move to Dallas, I was a complete wreck. But then I adapted and I have to believe I will adapt again. God’s breath will blow this little bird where He wants and He will help her build her nest again.

As hard as saying good-bye to this season is, I gotta say I am really happy to be going back to the Sunshine state.

The beach, the hospitality and my family await. I love home. I think a lot of my hesitation about coming back has stemmed from this lie from the pit of hell that I failed here. Why wasn’t I successful? Why didn’t I have more friends? Why didn’t people like me enough to care? Why did no job work out? Why? Why? Why was I never good enough? Why did big things not happen for me here?…Lies. Lies. Lies. Big things did happen for me here.

 

 

-I learned that I was more capable than I thought…I was always crippled by the fear of adulting, but dang, I crushed it!

-I cooked. I ate. I made artsy messes. I cleaned. I learned I’m going to be an awesome wife some day.

-I made friends with an entire family of refugee women. I will never be the same and some of my Christian friends won’t understand, but I learned more about Jesus by being with them.

-I got this amazing opportunity to go to Costa Rica to shoot a project for Nicaraguan coffee farmers and their families. (That was the one email a non-profit actually responded to! Cold calling works…sometimes!)

-The hardships I went through here lead to me writing a devotional called “ASCEND” and that devotional lead to me following this dream to climb a mountain…

-…And my mountain climbing dream lead to me winning a contest where I got handed a $14,000 check by Chip and Joanna Gaines, two dreamers I love and admire very much.

-I lost 25 pounds…Probably would’ve lost 50 but, you know…tacos.

-With that being said, Velvet Taco happened to me. And that’s a pretty big deal. I love that place and I will fly back to Dallas just to eat there again.

-I had a roommate for a year and she taught me everything I needed to know about living tex-mex. Thanks for being a sister to me, Liz.

-I attended a conference for Christian photographers and it reignited my passion for storytelling. It was there, I met the woman who inspired me to become a photographer in the first place- Joy Prouty of Wildflowers Photography. My first ever photography inspiration.

-I ran in my first run, a 5 mile Easter Run through Downtown Dallas. Not a big deal to most, but tell that to the girl who couldn’t run 100 yards at one point.

-I decided to go to Norway to chase the Northern Lights, because my job was sucking the life out of me and I needed some glory and wonder. Spontaneity at its finest.

 

 

-I met Selena’s dad, (like the real Selena Quintanilla) and he was just as miserable as he was portrayed in her movie. Bless his heart. He did compliment my cowgirl boots though.

-I was prophesied over twice. Once at Gateway church and once at the paint studio I worked at. At Gateway, I was sitting in the crowd when a random pastor I did not know (who happened to be visiting from Florida) pointed me out, asked me my name and said, “God wants you to know you’re not going to break. You feel like you’re in this pressure cooker about to burst but you’re not going to break.” The second time, I was working when a lady walked in for a paint class with her daughter and asked me out of the blue if I had ever heard of the prayer of Jabez. Mind you, there was no physical way of her knowing I was a Christian. This is called the power of the Holy Spirit. This was the prayer,

“Lord bless me and expand my territory. Let your hand be with me and keep me from evil so I will be free from pain.” – 1 Chronicles 4:10

I speak that prayer over my life everyday now and have it posted all over my apartment.

-There’s more I am sure, but my brain is fried from thinking.

-I learned so much about myself, God, people, the world. With every mountain and valley, I am thankful. I wouldn’t trade this journey for anything. And I can’t wait to see how this journey transcends into the rest of my life. God weaves all these seasons together for our good, making a masterpiece out of the beautiful mess of our lives. But He won’t force Himself on us. One of my favorite recent quotes by Bob Goff reads,

“Small streams don’t plan to be might rivers. We all just move in a direction; God decides what He’ll have us become.”

You see, I used to think things had to be a certain way.  I had to be a certain type of photographer. I had to have a certain number of friends.  I had to have x amount of followers on Instagram. I had to be married by x age. But now I know all that really matters is loving God, loving people and using the gifts He has given me in the best way He sees fit. He knows my heart. If I do those things, He will lead me to places I could have never dreamed of, down the yellow brick road, into the uncertainty and wonder of it all. Flying monkeys and evil witches may come my way, but nothing can stop His plan for my life. Indeed, the yellow brick road leads to magical places, but in the end, there’s no place like home.

 I hope this song blesses you like it has blessed me:

“You’re afraid, but you can hear adventure calling.

There’s a rush of adrenaline to your bones.

What you make of this moment changes everything.”

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This is…Sophia at Maw Maw’s House // Lithia, Fl Lifestyle Session

Hanging out with Sophia is always entertaining! She keeps you on your toes! Not to mention, she’s absolutely ADORABLE, so I am always excited to take pictures of her!

Email me at alexismariephoto@yahoo.com to book your lifestyle session today!

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This is…Emily // St. Pete Beach Senior Portrait Session

I love shooting seniors at the beach! It’s fun, it’s free, it’s colorful. It’s the perfect recipe for fun senior pictures! I’ll be back in the Tampa Bay Area in October so let your friends know! October is one of the best times to book a photography session. Especially at the beach. There’s less crowds and the weather is usually a littttle better. I think it’s at least a little more predictable, but in Florida, who knows? haha! The best thing is that it’s not too close to the busy Holiday season so it’s great if you’re planning to send Christmas cards or a canvas to grandma for the Holidays. To inquire more about booking your session, email me at alexismariephoto@yahoo.com

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This is…The Brown Family // Tampa Bay Area Lifestyle Session

As you all are aware, both my states- Texas and Florida, were hit by some nasty hurricanes this month. It’s been hard to watch and feel hopeless because there is not enough I could do to help everybody. I have come to learn that we have no control over natural disasters or the hurt this broken world brings, but we have control of the love we choose to pour out into the world. I became a photographer to highlight that love through the art of drawing with light. I hope my latest family lifestyle session makes you smile in the midst of this beautiful chaos we live in. This is what a “This is Us” session looks like with a video add on, by the way. 🙂

 !

 

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